Secret World Tweak Guide

Product: The Secret World
Company: Funcom
Author: Sean Ridgeley
Editor: Charles Oliver
Date: July 17th, 2012

General graphics options, Pt. 2


You're probably familiar with this technique by now. If not, it's DirectX 11 exclusive and serves to add more depth and detail to various objects and surfaces at a significant performance cost.

The Secret World offers the option to leave Tessellation off, apply it the ground and world, or just to one or the other.

Tessellation here has a direct and mostly consistent impact on performance. It's minor when applied to the ground or world, but when both are tessellated, things get heavy.

The difference is most noticeable on ground surfaces, though you may spot it on various objects like bricks and slabs, too. If you've got a particularly powerful setup and can throw caution to the wind, enable both, but otherwise stick with one or the other, or possibly neither, depending on the region.


Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO) is another DirectX 11 exclusive technique; it adds significant depth to the visuals of just about any scene, but like Tessellation, it can come with a significant performance hit.

If there's one setting in The Secret World I can't give universal advice for, it's SSAO. Low should appeal visually to everyone, sure, but some will need the extra ~5-10fps it costs. High is very demanding, and may not even be preferential to Low as it darkens scenes more than you might like sometimes. If you do enjoy the aggressive depth and can swing it, though, go for it. Otherwise, go with Off or Low, depending on your hardware.


DirectX 9 is what I like to refer to as the API that won't die. DirectX 10 and 11 GPUs are dominating the field right now, but games like this still support it, despite it offering less advanced visuals and significantly increasing development time and support costs.

Utilizing DX9 in The Secret World locks you out of SSAO and Tessellation. By that alone you'll save quite a lot of performance, but the visual impact of switching to the old system is jarring. It's also unnecessary, as DX 11 mode will offer you equal or better performance on DX11 hardware. As with resolution, consider this a last resort option.